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A high-gain and broadband printed array

antenna consisting of seven hexagonal

compound air-fed sub-arrays
X. He1, W.X. Zhang2, Z.H. Wu
State Key Lab of Millimeter Waves
Southeast University
Nanjing, China
tkoslp@yahoo.com.cn, 2wxzhang@ieee.org

Abstract—A high-gain and broadband printed antenna antenna together with its feed network is developed,
together with its feed network is developed, which consists which achieves a common bandwidth (VSWR d 2.0:1 &
of seven hexagonal sub-arrays as cells, each one is a gain-drop d 3 dB & SLL d 15 dB) of 8.28/9.63 % and
hexagonal compound air-fed array (CAFA), arranged in a peak gain of 22.51/22.87 dBi in measurement and
beehive-like shape. After choosing an optimal feeding- simulation respectively.
voltage ratio of the central cell to the circumjacent cells as
0.42, the corresponding feed network is carefully designed.
The measured results of a fabricated prototype are of II. DESIGN OF THE CAFA CELL
common bandwidth (for VSWR d 2.0:1 & gain-drop d 3 As the array antenna is combined by seven identical
dB & SLL d 15 dB) 8.28 % and maximal gain 22.51 dBi, CAFA cells, so it is necessary to describe the structure
while the simulation results are 9.63 % and 22.87 dBi. of a CAFA cell first.
Keywords-printed array antenna, compound air-fed The CAFA cell is in hexagonal shape which is
array, Fabry-Perot resonator, broadband antenna. convenient for forming the array antenna in a beehive-
like shape. A stacked-patch radiator (Fig.1) with broad
I. INTRODUCTION impedance bandwidth and almost axial-symmetric
pattern is employed as the feed of CAFA. Where a
The compound air-fed array (CAFA) proposed by narrow slot with sizes (lS u wS) crossed to the
Zhang et al[1] is a new member of printed antennas polarization was cut in a lower-layer rectangular patch
family, it can be considered as a Fabry-Perot resonator with sizes (l f u w f) placed on the central part of the base
(F-PR) antenna[2-3] with almost uniform phase for extending bandwidth toward the lower bound. An
distribution on the array aperture by means of phase
upper-layer parasitical patch with sizes (lp u wp) having
compensation for the reflection from both cover and
the center offset doffset along the polarization from the
base respectively, as well as adopted in reflectarray (RA)
center of lower-layer was used for improving the
and transmitarray (TA) design. The obvious merit of
symmetry in pattern. The substrate of upper-layer has
CAFA is quite low profile with thickness in wavelength
even sub-wavelength, especially comparing to the sizes (l up u w up), and the spacing hp apart from the
conventional air-fed RA and TA with a towering feed. lower-layers, it is supported by rectangular plastic
However, it limits the applications of CAFA that for cushion under the two edges of upper-layer substrate.
almost all the CAFAs designed by the author’s group The position of feeding point is fy apart from the patch
before [4-7], the peak gain is less than 20 dBi. A method edge.
for enhancing the peak gain by increasing the space An assembly of CAFA cell (Fig.2) consists of feed,
between cover and base of half a wavelength is base and cover. Where the central part of base occupied
attempted. Unfortunately, a quite narrow common by feed is surrounded by the AMC elements with same
bandwidth (less than 2 %) is obtained though the peak period PAMC involving square-patches arranged as 5
gain has been increased by ~5 dB, due to the loops in hexagonal grid, the patch sizes are identical in
contradiction between gain and bandwidth. In order to the same loop, but inversely tapered from inner to outer
obtain a high-gain CAFA while keeping a moderate in order as {d j}. On the down-face of the cover, the FSS
bandwidth, an array antenna using CAFA as sub-arrays elements with same period PFSS square-patches are
(or cells) is conceived and realized. For the convenience arranged as 8 loops in hexagonal grid too, the patch
of assembling this array antenna, the CAFA used as sizes are identical in the same loop, but tapered from
cells are designed in hexagonal shape; its FSS-cover and inner to outer in order as {e i}. Both the cover and base
AMC-base are arranged in a hexagonal grid; and a with ground are in hexagonal shape with same side-
stacked-patch radiator is used for keeping symmetry in length R and thickness h, the spacing between cover and
radiation pattern. Then a high-gain and broadband array

This work is supported by Natural Science Foundation of China

(No. 60671016), and also International Sci. & Tech. Cooperation
Project of Jiangsu Province (No. BZ2007601).
978-1-4244-4076-4/09/$25.00 ©2009 IEEE

Cell AMC FSS Feeding Parasitical
Profile on Base on Cover Patch Patch
R =45.0 PAMC=5.9 PFSS =5.3 lf =9.7 lp =9.1
h =1 d1,2,3 =2.8 e1,2 =4.8 wf =7.0 wp =8.0
hc =16.3 d4 =3.0 e3 =4.7 fy =8.7 lup =11.1
hp =0.8 d5 =3.2 e4,5,6 =4.6 dslot =3.2 wup =18.0
e7 =4.5 ls =1.1 doffset=1.4
e8 =4.3 ws =4.0

base is hc , the relative permittivity of all dielectric

sheets used are the same as H r =2.2 . The parameters’
values of the CAFA cell are listed in Table 1.


The array antenna (Fig.3) consisting of seven
identical CAFA cells is arranged in a beehive-like shape
(One in the middle and surrounded by the other six).
Obviously, the components of base/cover/parasitical-
patches are fabricated respectively.
As the global model of the array antenna in
CST2006B is too large, the optimized feeding-voltage
ratio of the central cell to the circumjacent cells is
impossible to be searched directly; fortunately, it can be
decompounded by using the pattern multiplication
Figure 1. Structure of the feed of CAFA cell theorem [8]. Thus the optimal value as 0.42 of feeding-
voltage ratio is solved, which becomes the designing
goal of the feed network (the phase of the seven cells are
required to be the same).


The feed network (Fig.4) consists of six Wilkinson
Power Dividers [9-10] (one is 2:1 power divider, and
others are 1:1 power dividers). The input power is firstly
divided into two equal output powers by 1:1 power
divider as the Level I, one of the output power is directly
fed into the central cell; another output power is divided
(a) AMC and feed on the up-face of base into six equal output powers by the power dividers as
Level II to Level IV and successively fed into other six
circumjacent cells.
By a global simulation over the required bandwidth,
the simulated feeding-voltage ratio varies within 0.488:1
to 0.357:1, with a maximal relative error of 16.2 % from
the ideal ratio 0.42:1; also the maximal difference of
simulated phase at the feeding-points is 40.4o. That feed
network can be recognized approaching to the designing


(b) FSS on the down-face of cover
The designed hexagonal sub-arrays used as cells for
the array antenna are of common bandwidth (for VSWR
d 2.0:1& gain-drop d 2 dB & SLL d 15 dB)
8.2/7.54 % and maximal gain 17.11/16.59 dBi in
simulation/measurement respectively.
After that, an array antenna prototype was fabricated
and measured for verifying the simulation; both the
(c) Front-view of CAFA assembly simulated/measured results are drawn in Fig.5 & 6, and
Figure 2. Structure of the CAFA cell

abstracted in Table 2. From Fig.5, a peak-gain Gpeak
=22.87/22.51 dBi which corresponds to an aperture-
efficiency Kpeak =37.7/34.7 %; within the common
bandwidth BW= 9.63/8.28 % for satisfying {VSWR d
2.0:1, Gain-drop d 3 dB, and SLL d 15 dB}; the half-
power-beam-width HPBW=8.3q/8.6q; and the measured
cross-polar-level X-PL < 30 dB inside the main-beam
are achieved. Fig.6 abstracts a set of typical pattern in E-
and H-planes at 10 GHz. These results validate the
design principle.

The array antenna consists of seven hexagonal
CAFA cells arranged in beehive-like shape is a good
(a) the AMC and feed on the base of the array antenna scheme for achieving both high-gain and broadband
simultaneously. The stepped feeding-voltage ratio from
central cell to circumjacent cells reduces the SLL in
radiation patterns, however, the cost of aperture
efficiency decreasing has been paid due to a
contradiction between SLL and aperture efficiency. The
future work may be dedicated in the reduction of SLL
while keeping better aperture efficiency.


Performance Simulated Measured
Gpeak (dBi) 22.87 at 22.51 at
at frequency 9.6 GHz 9.7 GHz
Kaper (%) 37.7 34.7
BW (GHz) 9.38~10.33 9.49~10.31
% (9.63) (8.28)
BWVSWR (GHz) 9.33~10.42 8.99~11.53
BWGain (GHz) 9.38~10.33 9.46~10.73
BWSLL (GHz) 9.36~10.48 9.49~10.31
(b) the FSS on the cover of the array antenna HPBW (q) 8.1~8.5 8.4~8.8
X-PL /   30.0 dB

(c) the assembled array antenna

Figure 3. Prototype of the array antenna excluding feed network

Figure 4. the simulated model of the feed network

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Figure 6. Radiation pattern of typical planes at 10 GHz